Franklin finances a concern

Franklin city manager Tracy Jamieson painted yet another bleak picture of the city’s financial situation at Monday’s city council meeting.

“We’re $110,000 behind where we were in 2019 at this time,” Jamieson said of the city’s combined real estate and earned income tax revenues.

Jamieson said it’s still unclear what impact the negative numbers will have on the city overall because a clear picture of second quarter financials won’t be available until the end of August.

“I am concerned as all businesses are,” said Jamieson. “I’m not even sure how you budget for something like this.”

Jamieson said, however, that cost saving measures the city has taken since the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shutdown of businesses are proving to be helpful.

Meanwhile, Jamieson said a project underway on Buffalo Street will incur additional costs.

The Buffalo Street pedestrian walkway and bus shelter project funded by a $135,850 grant the city received in 2019 called initially for the walkway to cut into the existing sidewalk and be replaced with asphalt.

Jamieson said, however, that a city ordinance stipulates disruptions to concrete sidewalks must be replaced with the same material. The change to the project will result in an additional cost of $2,087.

Additionally, Jamieson said, the original plan was for the city’s street department to assemble and install the bus shelter package as a cost saving measure. Because the street department is still undermanned due to coronavirus furloughs, Jamieson asked that the work be done by the contractors at a cost of $2,087.

A unanimous decision was made by council to accept both change orders.

Jamieson said the work is expected to be completed within “the next few weeks.”

The project provides a clear walkway from the new bus shelter which will replace the current gazebo behind the Franklin Towers apartment buildings to Liberty Street.

Jamieson then moved on to better news when she announced there is still enough money to pave the remaining parts of Otter Street.

“Normally we wouldn’t bid something like this out so late, but I think paving companies are still hungry for work and we can get a good price,” Jamieson said.

The project, which council approved unanimously, will pave Otter from 12th to West Park and 13th to 15th.

Council approved a virtual special meeting to award a contract for the project on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, councilman Christian Marshall asked why the city hasn’t recently looked into purchasing computers for police department cruisers.

“Why are we not making it easier for these guys to do their jobs,” Marshall asked.

Marshall said computers in squad cars would also boost revenue to the city as the technology makes the ticketing process easier for officers.

Police chief Kevin Anundson said he and Jamieson looked into the technology about two years ago but thought the price was high.

Marshall replied that not all cruisers would have to be outfitted at once and the city could start with one or two at first.

“I don’t know why we’re not giving officers the tools to make their jobs more efficient,” he said.

Jamieson said that is something she could look into when it comes time to create a budget if that is something council would like to see.